Rachel Kushner’s debut, Telex From Cuba, is one of six novels that are finalists for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, it was announced Tuesday. Inaugurated in 2006, the Dayton Literary Peace Prizes focus on the power of the written word, in fiction and nonfiction, to promote peace and understanding. The novelwas published by Scribner in July 2008 and was the cover review of the July 6, 2008 issue of The New York Times Book Review, where it was described as a “multi-layered and absorbing” novel whose “sharp observations about human nature and colonialist bias provide a deep understanding of the revolution’s causes.” It was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. In 2008, Kushner talked to The Times about setting her book on the cusp of the Cuban Revolution. “I wanted to bring out the excitement of the revolution and also give some sense of why it overlooked some of its brighter possibilities,” she said. “The thrill of liberation from the cane cutters, the loss of that world for the Americans. … And also this very open moment … of what could happen before things became ideological.”
Last year’s winners were Junot Díaz for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (fiction) and Edwidge Danticat for her book Brother, I’m Dying (non-fiction).